Safety Strategies for Senior Drivers
Around 82% of seniors in the US have a valid license and drive. Driving can help seniors stay mentally agile, as this activity involves concentration and the need to react quickly to external stimuli. Statistics indicate that older drivers pose a lower safety risk than younger ones, because they are less likely to cause a crash, and they travel fewer miles. Older drivers cause just 7% of all two-car accidents, compared to younger drivers, who are responsible for around 43% of them. However, seniors do have reason to prioritize their safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that fatal crashes per miles completed increase at about age 70 and reach their peak at 85 and above. So how can seniors stay safe while continuing to enjoy the convenience of having a car?
Adjusting Your Car
Try to be as comfortable as you can in your car by adjusting your mirrors, chair, and visor (to avoid glare). Make sure the interior of your car has an optimal ambience when you are driving. Place the air conditioning at a pleasant temperature and make sure all windows are clean and clear, so you have good visibility of the road. Make key adaptations if required and, if you are selecting a vehicle, look for extra features that can boost comfort and safety. These can include extra-wide doors, adjustable foot pedals, large interior handles, seat adjusters that can move the seat in all directions, and dashboard-mounted ignitions.
Keep Your Car Well-Maintained
Make sure you take your car to the mechanic as required. Regularly check fluid levels (including oil, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid). Remember to only check the coolant when the car is cool. One too many a driver has experienced burns while checking the coolant when the fluid was boiling hot. Take an interest in parts like the transmission, tires, and battery. The transmission, for instance, has five or six sets of gears, whose job it is to ensure your car engine is not spinning too fast or slow. If it is damaged, your car could go at an inappropriate speed and cause an accident. Signs of damage include slipping (moving from one gear to another without your input), shifting issues, and leaking fluid. All these issues indicate that a trip to the mechanic is warranted.
Check Your Fitness to Be on the Road
Stick to a strict testing schedule, testing your eyes and hearing in particular. If your doctor puts you on new medication, ask about any effects it may have on your ability to drive. Check the prospectuses of any current medication you are taking to see if they cause drowsiness. Finally, aim to stay physically fit and perform stretching exercises so your neck, back, and torso feel comfortable when you bend to look backwards or turn. Have your driving evaluated by driving assessment specialists is important. Professional assessments can involve a driving skill evaluation and a clinical assessment, which looks at any underlying medical causes that can affect driving.
Despite the decline in physical conditions that can occur as drivers grow older, research shows that seniors who successfully adjust to age-related changes are staying safe on the road. To ensure you are not harming your health or that of others on the road, adjust your car as required, keep your car in good working order and seek an evaluation if possible. Also, speak to your doctor so can receive assurance that the medications you are taking do not cause drowsiness or other issues that can interfere with your ability to drive safely.